View Full Version : Review of ROLEX "MBW" 1680 + introduction to MBW replicas

07-16-2007, 05:24 AM

Originally posted Dec 2005. Last updated July 2006
This review was originally just a pictorial, but it has finally developed to an extensive review of the MBW "vintage" Submariner. I linked lots of articles in this post so newbies could easier dive into the exciting deep sea of vintages. So you could consider this post as some sort of "introduction", mini-FAQ and reference guide. I highly recommend you to check the reviews and articles that I've linked in the end of this post.

This, in my latest update (July 2006) I wanted to clear up a few things about these watches, and look at them more objectively. There's a lot of hype and false exceptations around the MBW Rolexes. Many people think they're "perfect" or "indistinguishable from a gen", which simply isn't true. I suspect people have put them on pedestal because they're more expensive - and because for some unknown reason very few dealers have access to them. I have learned from guys like Ziggy to never believe the hype, just try to examine the cold, hard facts objectively. And as I did more research I became more informed about the subject. I'm still far from an expert but I'm always willing to learn more. To be honest Submariner doesn't really interest me (personally) that much anymore, but because it's such an icon in the replica community I find the subject fascinating.

There are plenty of nice vintage rep models of the sports Rolexes (some even very nice) but the Watchmaster/MBW 1680 and vintage SeaDwellers are in the league of their own. This review is more concentrated on them, and especially on the "red" 1680 model.

Very common question among the new members is: "What is a MBW?"
MBW means "Maria's Best Watch". Besides "Maria" there have been other dealers, such as WatchMaster, Luckyyy and George who have sold these exact same watches. Thus calling them all "MBW" is misleading, but it has become the commonly used "general term" among the members. I think it's a good term, because it makes identifying them easier for everyone.

The two "bread and butter" MBW models are 1680 (that is available in both red and white SUBMARINER font), and SeaDweller 1665 (available in "double red" and with white dial print). The DRSD (The Double Sea Dweller) (http://anonym.to/?http://www.redwatches.com) is one of the most sought after genuine watches among the Rolex collectors, and their prices have skyrocketed in the past 10 years. Another standard MBW models are the GMT Master I (http://anonym.to/?http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/gmt_old.jpg) (very inaccurate, uses Submariner case and crystal) and Milgauss (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=23982). There are also modern "MBW" watches available. The reason I used quotation marks is because this subject is so large that it would require another review altogether.

If you're more interested in Sea Dweller you might want to check HERE (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=6421) Randy's awesome white 1665 MBW. Some might argue that if you want extreme accuracy it's better base watch than 1680 in many ways. MBW 1665 is also the only replica SeaDweller that has a thick case and crystal like the genuine. All other reps are basically just "tweaked" Submariners without cyclops.


How good these replica watches are? Are they indistinguishable from the genuine...right out of box?

Short answer is no. If you take my "red 1680" for example... almost everything in that watch is a bit wrong, except the exact case dimensions (save the crown protector guards which (at unmodded state) are quite far from the "genuine look"). These watches make excellent base for modifications, because of their rare ability to take genuine parts. But the red 1680 model is still far from "perfect". Actually, there are many other, much cheaper Rolex replicas that look much more accurate "out of box" than MBW 1680. So if you're not willing to invest lots of money on a rep, don't like building and modifying them, I suggest to find cheaper and better alternatives. But if you want a good vintage Rolex replica and are a bit adventurous, there are no serious alternatives.

In the following review I'll show you a fine example of a modified MBW watch which (in its own merits) is an impressive, convincing piece of art.

My watch has been "vintagized" and excessively modified by my friend Tommy/Palpatine. The guy is an artist (as you can see from the pictures). It has full mods package, genuine springbars and better aftermarket insert which has been aged as well. Very, very convincing job.

I wanted my watch without pearl because I liked how it looked on Saabin's very hardcore Single Red SD. Crown guard job is nothing short of excellent, which is always excepted from Tommy. He also aged the hour markers and hands to give it the "patina/tritium look", and my dial is definitely one of his better works.

One of the most attractive features on vintage Rolexes is the bulged acrylic crystal. It gives the watch very different appearance when compared to its modern counterpart.


I polished and rebrushed the bracelet myself. You can get some hints HERE (http://anonym.to/?http://replica-watch.info/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1154) how to polish & brush a steel bracelet. Gen vintage 1680's come with different bracelet variations (like the folded one), but all default MBW's come with solid middle link Oyster band which is inaccurate. It's difficult (or almost impossible) to detect from someone's wrist but many members have updated their reps with genuine hollow link type of bands. Personally, I prefer the solid version because it makes the watch feel heavier and more substantial.


As you can see the clasp isn't exactly correct, either. The "gap" between the fliplock on genuine watch is smaller and not "rounded". But I suspect there could be variations... again?

GENUINE CLASP (the picture from a 1665):

Randy, the community's reigning Vintage Master has (of course) attempted every possible trick to age the inserts... You can read his about his experiments from HERE. (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=17276&hl=insert)




When compared to genuine 1680 the only instant noticeable differences are the winding crown and thicker date font. But since MBW watches accept genuine parts these are easy fixes for the "hardcores". Case dimensions are exact... and after "Palp" mods the crown guards are almost indistinguishable from a gen. 1680 originally comes with extremely large date magnification but most of the preowned watches have aftermarket crystals. Therefore generic crystal is a good "budget" option. .


When we make another, more detailed comparison the differencies become more apparent. The dial looks like the weakest link of the MBW. Almost all markings & coronet are incorrect when compared to genuine 1680's... and also the red "SUBMARINER" font looks dead wrong. It should be "cherry" red, narrower and lower. The datewheel is silver on a genuine 1680 but when you get your watch serviced by RSC they often replace it with aftermarket white datewheel. So in this sense it's not necessarily "incorrect" on the replica.

"Out of box" MBW 1680 compared to a genuine:


Then, let's make yet another comparison. Now we compare my modified 1680 to another genuine watch. As you can see the dial is different this time! Now the coronet and other markings look much closer. Compared to this watch the rep dial suddenly doesn't look bad at all. The SUBMARINER text is still too big on the rep, which is the only dead giveaway. But keep in mind: this is the only 1680 example I've found which has even remotely similar dial with the rep. Could it be a redial? God only knows (and perhaps Randy and Nanuq too). But if nothing else, this is a good example that there's a lot of variation among the genuine 1680's. When it's about vintage watches nothing is carved on stone. This fact alone makes identifying a well modified fake very difficult.

Modded MBW 1680 compared to another genuine:


As you can see the crown guard shape on the replica is different. Modded guards can be close, but they're too "curved"... and therefore almost impossible to modify to look 1:1. Some people say there's variation in the gen 1680 crown guards, but I've never seen ones that are so curved. They're all straighter, "spiky"... and look like "chops". Check THIS (http://anonym.to/?http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/RetiredDvrs.jpg) reference picture to see what I mean. The other differences crown, pearl, datewheel and bezel insert are easy, standard mods. The hour markers can vary from "ivory white" to almost orange on aged watches. Even the experts can't explain why the markers age differently. Antiquorum (http://anonym.to/?http://catalog.antiquorum.com/catalog.html) is the best place to look around and make comparisons.

Conclusion: MBW 1680 is an excellent watch (in its own merits), but not terribly accurate replica in "out of box" condition. It requires lots of parts, modifications and money to become very close. And even after all this effort it won't be 100% indistinguishable from a genuine. As I have become more informed about watches in general (and because I don't possess the skill to modify the watches myself) I personally don't see investing $600-$1000 to a replica watch very tempting. But then again, modifying these watches is the whole fun for others.

Does this all mean that I think they're not good replicas? No. Nothing could be further from the truth, I think they're amazing, convincing timepieces. What I tried to achieve with this review was an objective approach, which, for some reason is often missing from people's watch reviews. And remember, all these observations require very trained "eye", lots of reading, comparing pictures and again more reading. If you're just a vintage Rolex lover who's not "anal" about small inaccuracies, I recommend you to just enjoy your beautiful, handsome MBW timepiece.

Thanks for reading.

Ubiquitous "Getting the vintage beat right" (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=103)
Ubiquitous "How to identify a vintage MBW Rolex" (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=107)
Ubiquitous "Quick fix for non-fliplock Oysters and Jubilee bracelets" (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=3302&hl=)
Ubiquitous "One way to solve vintage Rolex datewheel flaw" (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=1463&hl=)
Ubiquitous transferred his 1680 into a gorgeous Tudor Submariner (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=1216)
Verbal Kint's nice 1680 (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=4053)
My friend Edge's beautiful modded 1680 with aged insert (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=2598)
Bigdoggy's white 1680 (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=1923)
XRT's 1680 (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=168)
Ziggy mods a COMEX MBW Sub (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=17384&hl=)
Ziggy's awesome lume job on a Rolex Singer dial (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=2593&hl=)

Palpatine's fine tutorials and "dial aging" hints are also available. If you're adventurous enough you might want to attempt these mods yourself. You can view his pictorials

HERE, (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=17395&hl=)HERE, (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=17394&hl=)HERE, (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=15937&hl=%5d)HERE (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/in...=15937&hl=) and HERE. (http://anonym.to/?http://www.replicacollector.com/members/index.php?showtopic=14880&hl=)


07-19-2007, 03:39 AM
Man, great review. You really know your stuff!!!! Keep em comming!!!!

07-19-2007, 08:24 AM
WOW! Great review and pics. Now you have me thinking about vintage rep Subs/SDs...

11-30-2007, 08:51 PM
Great information and review!!!!! Thanks.

11-30-2007, 08:59 PM
By-tor your reviews are the best. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. Gorgeous 1680!

11-30-2007, 09:00 PM
Thanks guys, but keep in mind that this review was written in 2005. Long before this forum even existed. :D

If I had to write it again today, I would be more critical. My photo skills have improved a lot too.

Unmodded MBW 1680 isn't that great rep, really... at least by today's standards.

12-01-2007, 01:29 AM
By-Tor, a quick question if you don't mind, how would you rate the "Perfect" sub offered by Josh?

flavor flav
12-02-2007, 07:31 AM
great write up as usual by-tor! i remember reading this about 2 years ago! i think the super seadweller is a much better rep than the mbws ever were... but you have to love the vintage!

12-02-2007, 03:02 PM
great write up as usual by-tor! i remember reading this about 2 years ago! i think the super seadweller is a much better rep than the mbws ever were... but you have to love the vintage!

Thanks FF.

The Noob factory Rollies, YM, Exp II and GMT are all light years better reps than any of these MBW's.

However, MBW's are very good bases if you want to build a vintage. The overall costs become very high that way, and I don't really see it as a sensible option anymore. But that's just me.

That being said, there are lots of amazing modded MBW's in the community.

02-22-2008, 07:37 AM
Excellent write up and I have seen reps made with genuine 1570 movement in a rep Sub case. I seen Invicta 8926 turned into Gen Sub dial with myiota movement and crowns/tubes changed. Sky is the limit. Frankenwatches have always existed. The words have changed, but check my 1680 in my avatar. I have never seen any rep out the box with large Date magnification until i read about the MBW. I love it.

11-06-2008, 03:15 PM
Thanks again By-Tor! Another Excellent review for us newbies. Modding is tempting.

BTW Ive seen Rush many times...one of my favorite bands. Hemispheres, GunderP, 2112, Hold your Fire, Moving Pictures are my 'stranded on a desert island' picks. Check out my youtube page of me playing Genesis, Yes and Zappa.

09-17-2009, 08:47 AM
always the best

09-23-2009, 12:13 AM
I am a big 1680 fan, have a white MBW from Eurotimez and awaiting a red from Narikaa. The link below has a number of genuine versions for comparisons and variances of the actual genuine article. Enjoy.


09-23-2009, 11:27 AM
I am a big 1680 fan, have a white MBW from Eurotimez and awaiting a red from Narikaa. The link below has a number of genuine versions for comparisons and variances of the actual genuine article. Enjoy.


What a great link Ron. Thanks, a very good read!

12-01-2009, 04:47 PM
Nice, I think I'm going vintage for my next Sub, does anyone ever call it a rep?

02-12-2010, 07:51 AM
I love Maria ;)

02-14-2010, 11:14 AM
Whatever happened Maria?

02-02-2013, 08:21 AM
thank you for the education. Great info man

05-20-2013, 04:51 AM
Yeah I have a lot of interest in this watch. The is the go to spot.

05-20-2013, 06:05 AM
Nice review. Thanks !!!

05-26-2013, 05:23 PM
Great Info, man! Nice review! Thanks.

05-26-2013, 05:42 PM
wow. every thread?

05-26-2013, 05:42 PM
Very nice watch!

06-18-2013, 11:05 PM

07-24-2013, 12:48 AM
good reviews

12-26-2013, 08:37 PM
Nice review

05-30-2014, 10:40 PM
Very nice

Gesendet von meinem SM-G900F mit Tapatalk

06-03-2014, 11:55 PM
Great Info, Thanks